Report from Kumi Now Meeting 14.09.2021 Justice and Peace Communications Volunteer Colette Gilhooley

Justice and Peace Communications Volunteer Colette Gilhooley

I attended my first meeting of Kumi Now on 14.09.2021 because the World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine is coming up on Saturday 18th September – 25th September and I wanted to learn more.

The main speaker was Zoughbi Alzoughbi, founder and director of Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre. The Wi’am Centre helps to resolve disputes within the Palestinian community providing services to women, youth, children and international diplomacy. They are involved in Sulha mediation, constructive reconciliation where their staff take on the role of mediators. After people are able to live without seeking revenge which is good for the people and the community. They are dealing with conflict around the clock and it is many kinds from issues which are financial, employment, land, domestic. There is a pressure cooker atmosphere making conflicts more likely. However, they try to solve these conflicts with a smile. With the youth they have exchange programmes, although with Covid these are now virtual. The Centre also welcomes visitors to the Holy Land giving a unique insight into the places and contemporary situations in the area. One issue is access to Rachel’s tomb which was visited by the Pope which has been annexed causing hardship to local business in the area and economic difficulties. The Palestinian community rely on family structures of support; however, The Wi’am Centre has a job creation program helping to support families suffering difficulties.

Other Points of Interest:

  • International indifference is a problem
  • There are more than 100,000 settlers living around Bethlehem.
  • There are less than 45,000 Christians in Bethlehem.
  • Unemployment in Bethlehem is more than 25%.
  • 4,650 Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Jails, 520 held without charge or trial.
  • Covid is high with over 11,000 cases in Israel and 2,000 in Palestine and 80 deaths every day across Israel and Palestine.
  • There are nightly raids next to the Refugee Camp near the centre because it is close to the wall, however tear gas containers and the bullets are collected to make into Christmas ornaments. 

Hope

There are many reasons to hope and try to change the lens for the future away from violence to peace including our role considering how we can show our support for communities in need this Christmas.

Interesting Links:

Kumi Now – KUMI NOW – Together For Justice

Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre – Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center (alaslah.org)

The wall Museum in Bethlehem where youths can express and share their stories. – The “Wall Museum” in Bethlehem, Palestine | Facebook

The Tent of Nations a peace project located on a hundred acre farm, 6 miles from Bethlehem – Help Save 🎪Tent of Nations (salsalabs.org)

World Council of Churches – World Week for Peace in Israel and Palestine

The World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine 18th September – 25th September 2021

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, with Dome of the Chain in the foreground

The World Week of Peace for Israel and Palestine is an annual event which is taking place this year on Saturday 18th – Saturday 25th September 2021 promoted by the World Council of Churches (WCC). The aim of this week of peace is for a united focus on promoting and praying for peace for all people in the Holy Land. 

Rev Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, acting Secretary of WCC, reflected: “The annual world week for peace in Palestine and Israel offers an opportunity for all of us who share the hope of justice and peace in the Holy Land to unite around the globe in solidarity and peaceful action, and to create a common international public witness”.

We are invited to join with church, faith-based communities and civil society organisations around the world to pray, advocate and stand in solidarity for just peace for all in Israel and Palestine. This year there is a focus on the role of art and reconciliation. ‘I will also praise you with a harp, even your truth, O my God (Psalm 71:22).

Rt. Rev Nicholas Hudson, lead Bishop of Justice and Peace in the Diocese of Westminster, writes:

“My prayers are with all those I’ve met in the Holy Land who are not only living through the recurrence of devastating wars, but also the daily horrors of occupation, blockade, and dispossession. In particular we recall the confiscations of homes and violations of holy sites, that resulted in such catastrophic violence earlier this year and continue today.

No sustainable resolution can be imposed by military or political means; it will only be achieved by respecting human dignity without exception. Therefore as we come together in prayer for peace, let us also raise our voices for justice.”

There are a number of ways that you can support this week including keeping this intention for peace in your prayers. If you are creative perhaps you can pray using the medium of paintings, lyrics, music, dance and other artistic expressions. Perhaps you could promote this week of peace on social media sharing this intention with friends.

“Let us pray as though everything depended on God but work as though everything depended on us” (St Augustine)

RESOURCES

Pax Christi – https://paxchristi.org.uk/campaigns/israel-and-palestine/world-week-for-peace-in-pi/

EAPPI – The World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) was created in 2002 by the World Council of Churches based on a letter and an appeal from local church leaders to create an international presence in the country. There are 25-30 volunteers there on a three month rotation in accompanying, offering protective presence and witness. https://eappi.org/en/about. There are 25-30 volunteers there on a three month rotation in accompanying, offering protective presence and witness. https://eappi.org/en/about

If you would like to find out more you can sign up for EAPPI eye-witness blog. EAPPI work as witnesses helping to relay what is happening https://www.eyewitnessblogs.com/

More information on the EAPPI and a very good short film available at: https://www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/eappi

There is a EAPPI Webinar on 20 September. More details can be found at Webinar on Forced Displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem | World Council of Churches (oikoumene.org)

Dover Prayer Service & Westminster Cathedral Mass for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Mass at Westminster Cathedral, 26 September, 5:30-6:30pm

Bishop Paul McAleenan

The annual International Mass on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated by Bishop Paul McAleenan at Westminster Cathedral, Victoria St, London SW1P 1LT, UK.

All are welcome to attend in person or via the Cathedral livestream.

https://rcdow.org.uk/news/live-streams-from-westminster-cathedral/

Little Amal meets Pope Francis

Amal is visiting Westminster Cathedral on Monday, 25th October 2021, 2-3pm.

Photo: Sarah Loader

Photo: Sarah Loader

Source: Independent Catholic News

On Friday 10th September Little Amal, the 3.5 metre puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee girl who is on an 8,000 km journey from the Syrian border to Manchester, was greeted in the Vatican by Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has been deeply engaged in the plight of refugees over recent years including many who fled war-torn Syria in search of safety. Little Amal was invited to the Vatican where the Pope blessed her and wished her well on her journey in search of her mother. She is an emblem of the millions of displaced refugee children separated from their families. Embodying the urgent message “Don’t forget about us”, her journey shines a light on the stories of the refugee children she represents.

“Among migrants, says Pope Francis, children like Amal constitute the most vulnerable group, because as they face the life ahead of them, they are invisible and voiceless. Amal invites us to open our eyes and hear their voices, so please come to meet her when she is in Rome.”

The Walk, the name given to the long journey of the puppet, consists of more than 100 acts of welcome in 65 villages, towns and cities. Beginning in the city of Gaziantep in south-east Turkey on 27 July and ending in Manchester on 3 November, at each stage of her journey she is being welcomed by artistic and cultural events created by and reflective of the communities she visits.

Addressing Amal as she stood amidst a crowd in St Peter’s Square, Cardinal Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees section of the Vatican, said: “Amal is great and beautiful. Meeting her is a pleasure, but she reminds us that encountering asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants in our midst requires more than just looking.”

To celebrate the occasion of Amal’s arrival, the diocese of Rome organised a party for hundreds of children from different Roman parishes.

Little Amal is at the heart of The Walk, one of the most ambitious artworks ever created, produced by Good Chance Theatre under the artistic direction of Amir Nizar Zuabi and producers Stephen Daldry, David Lan, Tracey Seaward and Naomi Webb, in association with the Handspring Puppet Company.

A 70+ page Education & Activity pack and Teachers’ Notes in six languages featuring illustrations by Syrian artist Diala Brisly. This can be downloaded from The Walk’s website: www.walkwithamal.org/education/activity-pack/

The Walk brings together celebrated artists, major cultural institutions, community groups and humanitarian organisations as well as municipalities, civic and humanitarian organisations, faith leaders and schools. For a full list of partners please visit: www.walkwithamal.org/friends/

The Walk website contains a donation page which invites the public to help to fund Amal’s journey at £1 per step.

The full programme is available on The Walk’s website: www.walkwithamal.org/events/

Bishop John Sherrington asks Catholics to take action to oppose the Assisted Dying Bill

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Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Bishop John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Lead Bishop for Life Issues for Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, is asking Catholics to oppose the Assisted Dying Bill. Catholics in the Diocese are encouraged to write to members of the House of Lords ahead of their debate on the Bill in October stating the reasons why they oppose this legislation.

Letters based on personal experience are particularly welcome.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is speaking about the Bill at a Zoom event organised by the Diocese of Nottingham tonight at 7.30pm. Register here https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEtd-yqqT0iE9a-oxs6W6QaRCrN3h5GXl5o

Full Letter

In the next weeks, we face an unprecedented attack on the sanctity of life with Baroness Meacher’s ‘Assisted Dying Bill 2021’ is due its 2nd Reading in the House of Lords with full debate on Friday, 22 October.

The term ‘Assisted Dying’ is euphemistic, the truth is that this bill seeks to introduce Assisted Suicide. If legalised, this Bill would allow a terminally ill adult with less than 6 months to live to be assisted in committing suicide. Catholic teaching opposes assisting suicide, since life is a gift to be cared for and preserved until its natural death. The Church is clear that we cannot directly choose to take the life of another, even if they request it. The solidarity of praying and caring for the most vulnerable at this fragile time of their lives is a profoundly Christian act which imitates Our Lady’s prayer at the cross and Christ’s service to the weakest.

Those in favour of the bill are making good use of language to confuse the issue and call it a compassionate and caring approach to redefine the question and obscure the actual reality and consequences of such legislation. As Pope Francis has said, “Physician-assisted suicide is part of a ‘throwaway culture’ that offers a ‘false compassion’ and treats a human person as a problem… True compassion does not marginalise anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude – much less considers the disappearance of a person as a good thing.” He criticised “those who hide behind an alleged compassion to justify and approve the death of a patient.”

Dangers of the introduction of Assisted Suicide

Importantly, at this stage we need to argue the dangers of the introduction of Assisted Suicide, which include the safety of people who are vulnerable due to external pressures, and the later liberalisation of the law which is evidenced by other countries which have introduced Assisted Suicide. Many voices from the world of disability-rights and other allies are also very fearful and fighting this bill. Whilst there are clear arguments to support Catholic teachings, it is important to remember that this position is not only a matter of faith but also human reason.

Later this month, the BMA will be debating whether to change their stance to support or neutrality on this matter. I hope that healthcare professionals will enter this debate and highlight the dangers of this Bill to change and skew the meaning of medicine.

Take action

There are three important actions in the next weeks: prayingwriting and sharing.

First, I ask you to pray that the Bill will be defeated.

Second, I ask you to write to the Peers from your personal experience and share stories which will argue the reasons for opposing the Bill as well as narrate the importance of precious time during the final stages of life.

The testimony of healthcare and legal professionals will also be important. This needs to be done before the Second Reading on 22 October.

Third, I ask you to engage and share stories and reasons against the Bill on social media.

Briefing papers will be available on the bishops’ conference website to assist you as this work develops.

Be assured of my prayers,

+John

Bishop John Sherrington
Lead Bishop for Life Issues
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

NJPN Blog – Season of Creation by Colette Joyce

Colette Joyce is the Justice and Peace Co-ordinator for the Diocese of Westminster. From 9-15 August this summer, she joined the YCCN Relay from London to Oxford, walking for Climate Justice as part of a larger pilgrimage from the G7 in Cornwall to COP26 in Glasgow.

‘Come, ye thankful people, come’ – I have always loved a good harvest festival. This time of year always brings back memories from my Essex childhood of ecumenical services in village churches, displays of pumpkins, apples, fruit, vegetables, tins and packets of every kind, and always, in the middle, a wheatsheaf baked out of bread. And afterwards everything was always distributed to those in need – the children’s home, the residential care home, refugee families. Christians in the UK have long celebrated the produce of the earth in autumn and practiced the tradition of sharing it out.

Since 2015 Pope Francis has called Catholics to join other Christians worldwide in widening their gaze still further at this time of year. From 1st September to 4th October we are invited to celebrate the Season of Creation, a time that includes many of the elements familiar to the tradition of harvest festivals but can now be shared universally across all countries and cultures, each with their own unique patterns of fruitfulness. While still giving gratitude for the great bounty of the earth, what we are being called to celebrate now is the very gift of Creation itself, every plant, tree, animal, insect, bird, fish, river, ocean, mountain and plain.

‘The Earth is the Lord’s and everything on it,’ (Ps 24:1) says the Psalmist. Our Scriptures tell us that we are stewards of creation, receiving a gift from the hand of God that we hold only in trust for our time on earth. No how much we might want to build bigger barns to store away more and more of this gift for ourselves, we can take nothing with us when our life is ended, but will be judged instead on what we leave for the next generation.

Sadly, our earth is in danger so the Season of Creation calls forth from us a new urgency to understand and cherish the eco-systems of our world, that we might also know how to protect it. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report on 7th August 2021 stated unequivocally that, “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe,” (A3) and, “Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.” (B1)

However, this is also the year when governments and businesses have the opportunity to unite and address these challenges at the COP26 UN Climate Change meeting in Glasgow, 1st-12th November. The actions of millions of people of faith, whether through advocacy, prayer or personal lifestyle changes, will be instrumental in helping the best collective decisions to be made.

This Season of Creation, let us strive to be part of the solution, not the problem, so that future generations, too, will be able to ‘Raise the song of harvest home.’

LINKS

Young Christian Climate Network – www.yccn.uk/
IPPC Report – www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_SPM.pdf
Westminster Justice and Peace – https://westminsterjusticeandpeace.org/season-of-creation-1st-september-4th-october/

‘The Crucified Planet’ Artwork Installed at White City Parish, Diocese of Westminster

Fr Richard Nesbitt, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Fatima, White City. Source: Independent Catholic News

Artist Martin Jarvis has installed his very powerful ‘The Crucified Planet’ artwork onto the large wooden cross outside our parish of Our Lady of Fatima in White City, and also written a wonderful reflection on it which I have put on the front of this weekend’s newsletter. In the photo, Martin is on the right and I am beside him.

Pope Francis invited the Church around the world to celebrate September 1st as a special Care for Creation Day of Prayer. And then to mark the time from this date up until October 4th, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, as a ‘Season of Creation’ when we reflect on and put into action Pope Francis’ call in his encyclical letter, Laudato Si’ that we “hear and respond to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.” The new piece of artwork will help us with this.

Here the artist, Martin Jarvis, explains the ideas behind this powerful image:

“The intention of this installation is to awaken us to the reality of climate change and environmental injustice for which we are responsible both personally and through the systems we use. I see that we humans have become lost and detached from the interconnectedness of everything. We need to understand that Jesus is the Universal Christ who inhabits all of creation, all matter and all space and time. When we realise this, the whole world becomes sacred and we feel the pain of all the terrible things we are doing to our beautiful planet and home and its inhabitants who are our kin (not just the two-legged ones). Like St Francis and Pope Francis we can, and need to, see them as sisters and brothers. We live in the ‘Kin-dom of God.’

As we see Christ in the whole planet we see that we are crucifying Him again by our ignorance and callous disregard for the interconnectedness of all creation. Many, in our western society in particular, have been asleep to the looming climate crisis and because of all the instant gratification and distraction offered by consumerism and the accelerated pace of life, have become lost and detached from the slower rhythms of nature. Therefore, we have been called to wake up, return and reconnect. These are perhaps more accessible words than repentance and healing for those who do not share our faith. My hope is that this is a piece of art which will speak to everyone in the local community.

Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, in which he addresses all these issues, has been a great inspiration to many people, Catholic and non-Catholic. Many see the mess but don’t know what to do about it. We all must do what we can in our own lives to address this crisis, but many of our problems stem from the destructive systems we humans have come to rely on, and it is those systems that must change if we are to survive. That is largely the responsibility of governments and businesses. We have to challenge them in whatever way we can to do the right thing. We must be prepared for change which will demand sacrifice.

Originally this installation was conceived as a Lenten project in a different parish. The Lord has shown a different time and place for this project and I am glad to be doing this for Fr Richard and the parish of Our Lady of Fatima and its neighbourhood here in White City, especially in this time leading up to the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference in November in Glasgow. I hope that this powerful image will give you food for thought and prayer as well as challenge you to act and to play your part in caring for our common home, our beautiful planet Earth.”

LINK

Our Lady of Fatima’s, White City – www.ourladyoffatima.org.uk/

JUSTICE and PEACE E-BULLETIN SEPTEMBER 2021

Welcome to the Season of Creation!

Amidst all our current difficulties and the challenges that face us at the start of this new academic year, we hope you will be able to take some time to celebrate and enjoy the wonderous gift to us that is God’s creation – our planet, all its treasures, plants, animals, each other and life itself…

This month’s newsletter includes links to resources and events that we hope will be helpful during this Season, as well as the usual Diary Dates for many other justice activities in the coming term. 

London Churches Refugee Fund Statement on Afghanistan

The trustees of the London Churches Refugee Fund stand in solidarity with the children, women and men of Afghanistan in their deep trouble.

To those who have managed to escape to Britain, far from home, families and lives broken, struggling to survive in an unfamiliar world: we welcome you, praying that you meet with love and compassion from the British people. We pray also for the families and friends left behind, hungry and afraid, and facing a terrifying future and the threat of violent death. Our hearts go out to them.

Now more than ever all refugees need our help, material assistance and prayers. LCRF recognises that all the refugee charities we support in London will have an additional burden to bear as a result of this unfolding human tragedy. They will stand in ever greater need of our twice-yearly grants to help support those destitute asylum seekers who access their services. And we, in our turn, pledge to do all we can to help them.

https://www.help4refugees.co.uk/

Bishop Declan Lang: Jesus will never abandon the people of Afghanistan

Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton

Source: Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

The Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs has urged Catholics to pray for the people of Afghanistan, while pointing to the work of humanitarian organisations, and efforts to welcome refugees, as signs of hope.

Bishop Declan Lang said:

“As Christians, we are called to be people of hope, even when a situation may appear hopeless.

Today our hope can be placed in those who are working tirelessly for dialogue, justice, and peace in their country.

Our hope can be placed in the humanitarian organisations that are continuing to offer their assistance, and the efforts to welcome and protect refugees fleeing their homes.

Above all we place our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we pray in the knowledge that he will never abandon the people of Afghanistan.”

After the Angelus on Wednesday Pope Francis called for dialogue in the country:

“I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace so that the clamour of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue. Only thus can the battered population of that country – men, women, elderly and children – return to their own homes, and live in peace and security, in total mutual respect.”